Friday, January 11, 2008

Germany: Spearheading the Solar Future

Lately, Germany’s pulling all the stops in an attempt to make solar energy use mainstream.

By: Vanessa Uy

Either by legislation or innovation, Germany is going solar with hopes that her neighbors gain the initiative to do the same. In the innovation front, Oliver Schultz, a 31 year- old German physicist from Freiburg’s Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Research had developed a photovoltaic solar cell whose efficiency is greater than 20%. This is much greater than existing off-the-shelf solar photovoltaic cells. By using multi crystalline structured silicon photovoltaic cells, Oliver Schultz was able to coax the cells to have an efficiency rating greater than 20%. This type of silicon crystals are much cheaper to manufacture because the purity issue is not very critical when compared to the majority of photovoltaic solar cells in current use. There’s one disadvantage though, multi crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells are high temperature sensitive which could become a problem during fabrication stage – especially if you want to maintain the consistency of it’s high-efficiency characteristic.

Recently, Oliver Schultz has developed an improved low temperature manufacturing and fabrication process for multi crystalline silicon solar photovoltaic cells. These new “class” of multi crystalline silicon cells have efficiencies approaching close to 30%. These crystals - were recently evaluated by independent US laboratories, and their efficiency claims are substantiated. If these new - generation of multi crystalline silicon solar photovoltaic cells gain widespread use, the “carbon footprint” of industrialized nations would further be reduced.

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